Our Opinion: Young, healthy, insured


The governors and legislators trying to find ways to avoid funding the Affordable Care Act regardless of the act's benefits to residents of their state should take a look at how Massachusetts' pioneering health care reform law is working. Ninety eight percent of state residents have health care, including young adults, a group that may think it is impervious to illness but could find out the hard way that they are wrong.

During a Berkshires Young Professionals mixer in Williamstown last week, Eagle reporter John Sakata talked to a 32-year-old network engineer who thanks to the insurance plan provided by his employer, Ascentek Incorporated, was able to avoid hefty bills for treatment of kidney stones (Eagle, August 18). Young people get sick and because they are active physically, they get injured disproportionately to other age groups. Those without a good health insurance plan at work can be devastated economically and sent into debt as a result. In Massachusetts, however, they have a variety of options for health insurance, and the ACA offers them as well.

Conservative opponents of "Obamacare" are outraged by the health insurance mandate (a concept pushed by the conservative Heritage Foundation before it was adopted by President Obama) but it is necessary unless everyone who does not have health insurance promises never to use the health care system. This won't happen, of course, because if someone without insurance gets sick, he or she is heading to the emergency room, where treatment is expensive and drives up health care costs for all. The state's health care system and the ACA encourage preventive care, which by reducing chronic diseases like health disease and hypertension, reduces health care costs.

The health insurance mandate is no more villainous than the law requiring drivers to be insured, and it is every bit as logical. With everyone sharing the burden, costs are kept low to everyone's benefit. This applies to young people as much as anyone, and insurance can enable them to avoid being crushed with a health care bill following an accident or cancer diagnosis that could take them years or decades to dig out from.


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